Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are some of the salient features of the programme?

At the ISPP, focus is not only on imparting public policy training in its basic essence, but to ensure the following:

  • Form a strong foundation based on theoretical rigour and experiential learning.
  • Build core skills in management and design of public policy.
  • Advanced, and industry-responsive curriculum, curated by academics and industry leaders in the policy domain.
  • Ensure practical learning opportunities through field-immersions, real-life projects, capstone and policy analysis exercises, thanks to a wide network of partners.
  • A richly endowed coursework, in both qualitative and quantitative courses.
  • Very high emphasis on developing a variety of skills for the industry.
  • At ISPP, our learning methods and pedagogical philosophy will be based on SPEL framework, which expand into Skills, Political Economy, Ethics and Leadership.

2. How did ISPP come about?

The imagination was clear. The country needs young people in handling its complex governance challenges. And they want to do that. The government as well as corporate bodies are increasingly becoming open to attracting such a talent in their policymaking exercises. And yet, there is a perceived lack of high quality public policy programmes in India. The ISPP emerged as a space to fill this gap.

The School is an outcome of eminent councils of policy makers, industry leaders, philanthropists and academicians coming together, recognizing the need for cultivating future policy professionals and leaders of the country and beyond.

The idea is to be able to carve out a highly advanced, rigorous and agile programme on policy, which is taught by an outstanding faculty in the discipline. The Faculty, Board and Governing Council comprise of people with diverse experience in engaging with policymaking at multiple levels. The patrons, who have supported us by their generous grants, include people like Nandan Nilekani, Vallabh Bhansali and Jaithirth Rao.

3. What kind of industry tie-ups does ISPP have in place?

Industry partnerships are evolving in nature. Even before its inception, the ISPP has been able to build a strong network of industry partners at multiple levels. Some our partners include: Uber, Deloitte, Skill India, Ernst & Young, PwC, Samhita, Dasra, Manipal Educational Group, among others. Many others, like NASSCOM, CII, Observer Research Foundation, National Skill Development Corporation, APCO Worldwide have offered strong endorsements. More on: https://www.ispp.org.in/industry-partners/

The Indian School of Public Policy holds meaningful support from leading corporate organizations, government wings and non-profit groups.

For us, this support is reflected in engaging with industry in designing the curriculum, conducting policy action exercises, borrowing mentors, facilitating live projects on policy practice for our students’ projects, and placements for our graduates.

4. What is the career progression post a course in public policy envisaged as?

The career opportunities in the public policy domain haves grown manifold over the past few years in India. They will be able to attract public policy graduates in time to come:

  • Government: Public Policy and related courses used to be seen as courses taken up by mid-career bureaucrats. However, today more so than ever before, the Indian government has been hiring individuals from outside the civil services to help carry forward
    India’s governance through the challenges of the contemporary times. Both the Central and State Governments are increasingly
    seeking professional assistance from consultancy firms, non-governmental organisations and individual experts. NITI Aayog,
    PMRD Fellows are few such examples. Recently, the government hired 9 private professionals at joint secretary levels as lateral
    hires. The winds of change are visible.
  • Private consultancies and corporations: In recent years, private consulting organizations are increasingly engaging with the government at multiple levels and hiring public policy professionals to build a strong knowledge inventory for them. There is also a greater demand for professionals skilled in public policy to take up roles in traditional corporations, who employ policy professionals regularly to assist the Company’s work with the government or to influence policy. Indeed, almost all technology companies like Google, Uber etc. now have in-house public policy experts, which we also see in many traditional industries.
  • MPs/MLAs/Political Parties: Political parties and even individual politicians seek professional assistance in policy matters as part of
    their larger strategy to build a brand image among the electorate. In the time to come, the demand for young policy graduates in the offices of MPs, MLAs and even district administration will only increase.
  • Research Centres and Think Tanks: Besides, public policy opens up many options for students in the area of research and development, teaching, a career in think tanks and independent research centres. Some of the other roles include: policy advisors,
    program officers, policy analysts, political strategists, public policy consultants etc.
  • Higher Studies: The School has a rich curriculum, drawn in favour of research, and therefore also acts as a strong foundation for
    those who want to continue their higher education in public policy and related disciplines.
  • Entrepreneurship: India is churning newer aspirations every day. It is exhibited in a variety of forms, most notably in social entrepreneurship. The ISPP graduates hoping to either join a political party or build their own social enterprise will be equipped
    with skills, tools and sensitivity to inspire them in pursuing their dreams.

5. What kind of a pay package may I expect post the completion of a course in public policy?

This varies widely depending on your background, experience and skills. But also more importantly on the industry you will be working in and the ongoing demand.

Approximate figures could be as under (this is only an indication and actual figures may vary beyond these numbers):

Fresh Graduates – Rs. 5-9 lakhs per annum

1-3 years of experience – Rs. 7-10 lakhs per annum

> 4 years of experience – Rs. 12-15 lakhs per annum

The above will vary depending on the function/role and the individual’s experience.

6. Isn’t the ISPP fee quite high?

The programme is not expensive at all, if one looks at other institutions that teach public policy. For comparison’s sake, here is a tentative cost structure of various public policy programmes (entire programme):

ISB – INR 12.6 lakhs + GST

NLSIU – INR 5.5 lakhs

IIM Bangalore – INR 16.5 lakhs

Jindal School of Government & Public Policy – INR 6.5 laks

The quality of programme is world-class in its scope. In that sense, if one compares it with a top public policy programme in the US, the ISPP is actually inexpensive. In Kennedy, Harvard, the fee is around $ 57,000 and for Harris, Chicago, it is $21,000.

One must also realise that high quality education, if not funded by the government, will always be expensive. Smart people are also expensive resources. Good teachers are not, and should not, be cheap.

“Also note, the fee mentioned is inclusive of GST. So in effect, your actual standard fee is around Rs. 5.9 lacs."

7. What about scholarships?

This is our founding batch, and, therefore, we are offering very generous scholarships. Scholarships are offered on a merit-cum-means basis.

Scholarship amounts range from 10% of the tuition to 100% of the tuition fee.

The fee on boarding and lodging (INR 1.5 Lacs) are not subject to scholarships. Note that this money you would spend on yourself anyway, regardless of whether you choose to come to the ISPP or not.

8. What is the procedure for securing a scholarship?

The scholarship decisions are taken once selection to the programme is done. The selection is based upon the strength of your application, and scores in the interview and group discussion. After receiving the offer of admission, financial-aid forms will be shared with the students. They need to complete and share the form along with a list of supporting documents.We look at a range of parameters, which include a candidate’s financial status, and accordingly award scholarships.

9. What increases my likelihood to get a scholarship?

Three things increase the likelihood of receiving a scholarship, and its quantum. They are: firstly your merit, reflected in your application form, interview and group discussion. Secondly, how much in need of a scholarship you are. Since this is donors’ money, it must be valued even more. We try to be as objective and careful as possible in awarding scholarships. Thirdly, your chances of securing a scholarship become higher, the earlier you apply to our programme, since selections are on rolling basis.

10. Tell me more about the campus.

The campus is located in Qutab Institutional Area, Delhi. It will be spread over 5000 sq. ft., and designed keeping in mind the importance of community space, as well as diverse the pedagogical orientation of such a space. The campus will consist of a large classroom, smaller tutorial rooms, faculty space, and a lounge for the students to read/relax. A cafeteria and ample green cover are also envisaged. The idea is to keep the design as flexible and open as possible.

Qutab Institutional Area in Delhi is a unique space, and is home to many premier educational institutes like the IIFT, IMI Delhi, FORE School of Management and similar. The entire area is buzzing with students, and adjacent to Delhi’s largest green cover (Sanjay Van); it is very conveniently located, and well-connected to the airport, Gurgaon and Central Delhi. Basic public amenities like hospitals, a police station, public transport et cetera lie in close proximity.

11. Any details pertaining to the hostel facilities available?

The programme is fully residential, and hostels will be provided in the vicinity of the campus. Hostel facilities are compulsory, given the importance of engaging in group work and participating in activities of the School. Only in exceptional circumstances, the School allows you to live outside the residential facilities of the School. This includes for example, when the candidate is married and living with spouse and children. The residential facilities will be for the candidates only and not for their families. Boarding and lodging charges are applicable when you opt for this option.

12. Why should a student prefer a certificate programme, instead of a degree/diploma?

The answer lies in the philosophy of public policy pedagogy as well as in regulatory bottlenecks in India.

This was a carefully thought-through decision. The one-year architecture of the programme is not new. Prominent public policy programmes around the world, including Chicago (Harris) and Harvard (Kennedy) are one-year Masters programmes. In India, most programmes take two years, because UGC only recognizes two-year programmes as Masters programmes. This is a drain on time, when adequate skills and approaches can be taught within a year in public policy domains.

The whole idea is to equip students with essential knowledge and skills in order to make them job-ready for a successful career in the public policy domain. In order to maintain the flexibility and dynamism needed to incorporate all important information, knowledge and latest advances in the public policy domain, we decided to keep the programme independent of a government regulatory mechanism, permitting the freedom and innovation required to successfully execute such a programme.

The ISPP programme has been designed to be independent of the constraints of an existing university or regulatory structure. We felt an independent programme will suffice to offer the training we envisage. It is an industry-led programme in the true sense of the word, especially as the industry has actively participated in designing this programme, and will consistently provide useful inputs and opportunities to students throughout the programme (via field immersions, mentoring and internships).

13. Does this mean there is no degree offered here?

That is right. We do not provide any degree. It is a one-year postgraduate programme, not a Masters programme, but that should not matter. India has changed drastically. Industry looks at quality before making any recruitment, and frankly, most universities have failed to signal quality from their degrees. In this time and age, signals of good quality education are conveyed through the faculty quality, people behind the programme and an advanced, agile curriculum, responsive to the needs of the industry. Since we offer exactly that, we don’t need a degree. And that is why many industry partners have begun offering their commitments and endorsements.

Indeed, several programmes, including at the prestigious ISB, Vedica Scholars, Young India Fellowship etc. operate as non-recognized certificate programmes, but with tremendous industry acceptance, because of the quality of the graduates, who complete these  programmes.

14. What is the faculty like?

The ISPP will have, for lack of better word, arguably, the best faculty in the country for public policy training. This is made possible through our commitment to high-quality teaching, and a vision to change India by producing future leaders. Our faculty comes from an eclectic background, with rich and diverse experience in academia, government, non-profits and corporates.

To be able to secure such faculty, we offer a visiting mode of professorship. While some faculty members will, indeed, be permanent, we want to ensure that simply because the faculty cannot join full time, does not mean our students cannot have them teach them. We can pick the best faculty, whenever available. It allows us to source the best talent from around the world.

We consciously want to keep the ratio of permanent faculty to visiting faculty low, as the subject of public policy demands sessions not only from acclaimed faculty, but also leaders and successful professionals from the government, public sector, private sector, non-profits and international development organizations.

15. Are any specializations offered at the ISPP?

We focus on mastering the general principles, and applying them to five different themes to get you ready for any domain. We will provide you domain specific mentorship and opportunities for additional assignments and projects in your domain of interest, throughout the course. At this stage, these thematic areas are: environment, urbanization, technology, health, education and national security. This list can expand or shrink depending on the type of interests our incoming cohort receives.

16. Why should one pursue a course in Public Policy?

India is undergoing transformative political, economic, social and technological revolutions. On one hand, we are witnessing an unprecedented growth in the economy, and our emergence at the global level is being witnessed and acknowledged by all countries; at the same time, we are also trying to improve our standing as per various socio-environmental parameters like ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives, quality education, gender equality, promoting inclusive and sustainable development, protection of biodiversity, and many others.

Advances in all these fields require design and implementation of sound public policies. This can only be taken up by a new class of policy leaders, who possess the requisite knowledge, skills, ethics and wisdom to bring about desired changes in India’s socio-political and economic landscape by framing effective policies. Hence, there is a pressing need for a new generation of policy professionals, who possess all necessary traits, are well trained in understanding complex public problems and design effective solutions through the formulation of definitive public policies.

One can understand the reason for pursuing such a course from another angle. India is churning out policies like a machine. In the last several years, policy discourse has reached unseen heights. In fact, if one looks at the incumbent government’s records, one comes across a number of policy frameworks that emerged. National Policy on Biofuels 2018, National Health Policy 2017, National Steel Policy 2017, National Civil Aviation Policy 2016, National Offshore Wind Policy 2015, National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, National Agroforestry Policy 2014 are just some of the examples at the national level. States and provinces have their own policy guidelines.

And this thrust for policies is a recent idea. As the Government shrinks from being a service provider to service facilitator, one sees the importance of policies and regulatory bodies enhance.

Interestingly, the Government has begun exhibiting significant interest in hiring people from outside the bureaucratic ranks in many of their policy and development work as consultants. NITI Aayog, the in-house government think tank, which replaced the Planning Commission, is housed by a number of young graduates from top universities in the world as their policy consultants. The Prime Minister Fellowship Scheme is an interesting initiative to attract young people in policymaking. A range of government departments and ministries are housed by young, bright graduates in various disciplines engaging in research and advisory services. In fact, as a marked departure from its tradition, the Indian government recently recruited 9 people working in the private sector into their joint secretary level (senior bureaucrats) as lateral hires, as the first ever move since independence. For the positions advertised, they received over 6000 applications. Working with/for the Government in India has never been so attractive to the private sector affluent class.

Despite the interest and willingness, there is a perceived lack of good public policy professionals in the country. This is attributed to a lack of good schools teaching public policy as a discipline. Of those that exist, almost all of them are embedded in a university set up, highly agile in absorbing the changing world with the same pace. More importantly, they offer two year degree programmes, since India does not recognize a one-year Masters degree.

17. Are you teaching ‘design’ as a separate discipline in the programme?

Such a course will definitely be embedded within the framework of the curriculum, even if not taught separately. What we need anyway is not design, but design thinking. And design thinking is at the foundation of our pedagogical ethos. It will be taught in relation to how design complements, informs and affects public policy making. And so, the practical implications of design in the programme will reflect in the curriculum, and student experience. There will be several courses and workshops meant to infuse a design sense into students of the programme and inculcate the basics of design-thinking as a methodology.

18. Are there any specializations offered?

Specialization is meant to be a concurrent theme during the course of the programme, parallel to the lecture courses. All students will have the option of choosing a specialization to work on, at the beginning of the programme, which will complement their policy exercises and capstone. Some major policy themes will be covered in policy theme lecture courses like environment, urbanization, technology, health, education and national security.

19. Is it possible to specialize in a policy domain outside those already decided in the programme?

Right now, the programme offers five thematic areas for specialization: environment, urbanization, technology, health, education and national security. If students wish to do a specialization on, say, sports policy, it can be offered depending on the batch size, and sufficient interest. This, however, cannot be ascertained, until we have the classes commence.  

20. What kind of industry immersion does the ISPP provide?

The ISPP intends to build discourse on public policy at the national level. It will serve as a platform for public policy debate and discourse by bringing together seasoned policy professionals, government and civil society representatives to engage and interact with students. Indeed, students will also play an active role in these seminars, workshops, debates and related activities, on campus.

The ISPP will aim to connect every student with an industry mentor, in their area of specialization. The mentor will act as a guide and an inspiration to the student during the coursework and projects and will spend some select hours with the student taking him/her through important aspects of skills and personalities intended to build a public policy approach in thinking, and in career.

Students will also be involved in real-life projects that come from various partner organizations. These projects can have varying scope; students will be taking time out to work on several such projects that are being executed by the industry.

21. Is there an internship?

There is no internship in the programme. The one-year duration will be used to develop skills and approaches required to be a public policy professional. The programme is fairly rigorous and leaves little time to undertake an internship for several weeks.

What we do have, however, are various immersion experiences, in the form of real-life projects, mentorship by the industry and academics, and indeed, through a industry-responsive curriculum.

22. Can I pursue a formal Masters programme after the completion of this course?

The ISPP’s one-year programme can certainly be used to bridge your three-year undergraduate with the fourth year, so you can apply to a Masters programme in the US, for instance. But since the ISPP does not provide a degree, it cannot be said to have replaced a Masters degree in India.

And surely, as far as its academic merit goes, the ISPP enables you to apply for programmes for advanced degrees, in any number of domains, ranging from public policy to business, analytics, political science, economics, and others.

23. Can I pursue a career in academic research after the programme?

Yes, the programme will certainly equip students with the right theoretical foundation, research and analytical skills, in order to be able to pursue a career in research, post the programme, if they so wish. The programme is academically intensive, including several research projects such as policy exercises and capstone seminars that will serve as a rich experience for students interested in building up a research portfolio.

24. Am I eligible to pursue PhD after the completion of one-year programme in Policy, Design & Management

Yes you will indeed be, in most good universities globally. This programme does not act as your masters degree, so if the eligibility of your chosen PhD programme is to have secured a masters degree, then you would not be able to join it. But if the requirement is to have finished undergraduate and a masters equivalent, then there should be no problem. A number of American universities routinely accept applications from candidates without a masters degree, to enrol them into their PhD programme, provided of course, the quality of application is good.

25. How do I reserve my spot?

You have to deposit a 100% refundable amount of Rs 50,000 to us. Later, if you choose to withdraw, you will be given this amount back in full. If you choose to join, this amount will be refunded in full, after you have paid the requisite fee on registration day.

26. What is the fee payment schedule going to look like?

The tuition fee is payable in three instalments of 20% before the registration, 30% on registration date (2 August 2019) and 50% by the middle of the course (31 January 2020). The boarding and lodging fee will be paid in two equal instalments, first at registration and second by the middle of the course.

27. What is the refund policy on the fee?

The Acceptance Deposit of Rs. 50,000 will be fully refunded to you, regardless of whether you choose to join or not. The tuition fee is refundable with 10% deduction until 2 July and 50% until 15 August, on the fee that would have been paid by then. No refund will take place on or after 16 August. 

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